7 little-known bank fees that could be costing you big
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Bank fees can be frustrating, and all the more so if you’re not aware of all the charges that come with using your account. Some familiar fees like ATM fees and overdraft charges might be on your radar, but there are many lesser-known fees that can quickly add up.
Here are seven fees that you might not have been aware of before and how you can avoid them.
1. Returned item fees
If you write a check that bounces or have a direct deposit that is returned due to lack of available funds, your bank may charge you a returned item fee. This fee can range from $25 to $40 per item and can quickly add up if you have multiple returned items at once.
Make sure to regularly check your account balance and have sufficient funds in the account before making payments to avoid this fee. Consider setting up banking alerts for low balances to keep track of your account balance.
2. Foreign transaction fees
If you travel overseas or make purchases from foreign sellers using a debit or credit card, you may be charged a foreign transaction fee. This fee can range from 1 percent to 3 percent of the purchase amount and can be even higher for ATM withdrawals.
To avoid foreign transaction fees, consider using a debit or credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Another option is to make sure you take out sufficient cash in advance to avoid making foreign ATM transactions — just remember that carrying too much cash can be risky, since it’s unlikely that you can get it back if it’s lost or stolen.
3. Inactivity fees
Some banks may charge an inactivity fee (also called a dormancy fee) if you don’t use your account for a certain period of time, typically between six months and a year. The fee can range from $5 to $20 per month of no activity once the limit is surpassed.
Consider setting up automatic payments or transfers to your account for accounts that you use infrequently. If you no longer need the account, it’s best to close it so you don’t keep incurring charges you’re not aware of.
4. Early account closing fees
You may get charged a fee for closing a bank account within a certain period of time, such as within 90 days of opening the account. This fee can be between $10 and $50 and may come as a surprise if you discovered that the account you opened wasn’t what you needed and assumed you could simply close it and move on.
If you’re planning to close your account, be sure to ask your bank about any associated fees. Consider waiting until any direct deposits or automatic payments are transferred to another account before closing.
It’s also important to research and compare multiple accounts before opening one so you can prevent the need to close it early on due to dissatisfaction with it.
5. Overdraft protection fees
While overdraft fees are well-known, you might not be aware of a fee charged for overdraft protection services. Overdraft protection allows you to link bank accounts so that if your account is overdrawn, funds from the linked account are automatically transferred to cover the charge. But there might be a fee of $10 to $15 per transfer.
To avoid overdraft protection fees, consider opting out of this service and monitoring your account with the help of bank alerts to avoid overdrafts. You could also look into opening an account that comes with no overdraft fee.
6. Account research fees
If you need to request copies of past statements or investigate a transaction, you may get charged an account research fee. This fee is typically charged by the hour and can range from $20 to $50 or more per hour of research.
You can reduce the need for account research and incurring this fee by keeping digital copies of your statements and keeping track of your account to quickly detect any unusual transactions.
7. Incorrect information fees
Providing incorrect information for a transaction or account setup can cost you. An incorrect information fee may be anywhere between $5 and $50 per occurrence and can be avoided by double-checking all information before submitting it. Make sure to provide accurate and up-to-date information to avoid this unnecessary fee.
How much little-known bank fees cost
|Returned item fee||$25-$40 per item|
|Foreign transaction fee||1%-3% of transaction amount|
|Inactivity fee||$5-$20 per month|
|Early account closing fee||$10-$50|
|Overdraft protection fee||$10-$15 per transfer|
|Account research fee||$20-$50 per hour|
|Incorrect information fee||$5-$50|
There are many bank fees to look out for beyond monthly maintenance and ATM fees, and they can all typically be found in the account disclosures or a provided schedule of fees when you open the account.
By being aware of these fees and taking steps to avoid them, you can save money in the long run. Be sure to read account terms and disclosures and ask your bank about any fees associated with the account to avoid surprises down the road. Keeping a close eye on your account balance and transactions and setting up account alerts can also help you avoid unexpected fees.